Coffee houses have always been places where ideas and thoughts are discussed and debated. How many of the last century’s groundbreaking concepts were spawned over a cup of dark roast? In his historical look at how the drink can bring people together, Satin’s narrative serves as both a retrospective of the cup of joe and the coffee break.
Mary Doria Russell
At first treated as a quirk, a treasured supply of coffee from Earth brought by the Jesuits’ team into space becomes a key plot point: The humans trade a flask of the impossibly fragrant beans to poet Hlavin Kitheri, who immediately begins searching for the right words to encapsulate the experience of smelling them…and for how to get more.
On What Grounds
Mystery writers can justify setting their deaths and disappearances everywhere from college creative writing classes to bakeries. How do they do it? With amazing puns like every installment in this series: “Latte Trouble,” “Murder Most Frothy,” “Holiday Grind,” “Roast Mortem,” and “A Brew to Kill.” There are 15 of these books, like a literary version of a prolific Starbucks menu.
The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul (originally published as A Cup of Friendship)
A thirty-eight-year-old ex-pat finds settles in Afghanistan—and despite it being a war zone—she opens up a coffee shop and uses the ritual of gathering over a steaming cup as the link between cultures and religions. Despite the language barrier, she bonds with two local women: Halajan, who hides a modern romance from her traditional son; and Yazmina, a young Afghan girl with a terrible secret. the characters in this startling novel prove that the smell of roasted coffee beans can knit disparate people together.
Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down
During the twenty-odd years that his humor column ran in the Miami Herald (until 2005), Barry was known for discussing his all-consuming need for coffee. And it resonated! He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for using humor to make new insights into serious issues…such as his 1997 column “Decaf Poopacino”? We’re assuming yes.
The Devil Wears Prada
So many characters on this list appreciate a nice cup of joe alongside romances and murders…but what if your existence is only about getting coffee for someone else? In addition to every torture Miranda Priestly exerts on poor Andy, the never-ending quest to bring her the perfectly-hot coffee is the greatest humiliation.
Margolis’ romance is like “You’ve Got Mail” set in dueling coffee shops instead of bookstores. Having traded in a luxurious PR job for shifts at a coffee shop, Amy is nonetheless happy with her little boy and their admittedly chaotic lifestyle. Meeting hot, sweet Sam seems to be the missing piece…until Amy discovers that he runs the super-corporate Bean Machine, which threatens to edge out her humble employers. All’s fair in love and searing lattes…
Coffee—it’s what makes the world go round, in more ways than one. How many times have you needed to pair your current read with a steaming cup? How many times have you Instagrammed your current read alongside your favorite mug? How many characters do you empathize with who can’t kick their own coffee addiction? (We’re raising a go-cup to you, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore.) These books feature coffee shops as the backdrop for murders, coffee beans as currency in far-off galaxies, lattes as tools of rebellion and peace, sociological studies about caffeinated drinks as status symbols, and a whole lot of great coffee puns—and they’ll give you a much needed jolt.
Which books perk you up like a great cup of coffee?
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Bookshelf curated by Natalie Zutter.
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